College Cup 2002
NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship
Portland Pilots win the 2002 College
With Christine Sinclair leading the way, the Portland
Pilots won their first women's soccer National Championship. The
Pilots once again were carried by the strength of their defense, disciplined
play on the entire field and, of course, the outstanding play of Christine
Sinclair. In my opinion, and I realize it's probably a minority
opinion, this is the best I've seen her play and the first time on a
national broadcast in the United States that her play has matched her hype.
In previous games I've seen an incredibly exciting player who makes you hold
your breath whenever she's around the ball, yet a player who tends to be
isolated up top and not generally in the flow of the offense. If she
gets the ball, the other team is in trouble, but the teams against whom I've
seen her play tend to be fairly successful at limiting her touches.
In the Championship game, however, Sinclair completely
shattered any criticism I could possibly level at her - well with the
exception that I truly believe she has no idea how much better than everyone
else she actually is, and that she should run at the defense a bit more
instead of pulling up and looking around to see where everyone is (she does
need to play with her head up a bit more - as good as she is, she's going to
get better folks - a lot better). She needs to learn that when she has
a relatively clear path to goal (one defender for her to shake is a clear
path for her at this level - maybe at any level), it will be only the rarest
of occasions when there is a better option than just running in on those
defenders - she'll learn . . . then maybe she'll have 15 goals in the
tournament instead of the record breaking 10 she had in this one . . . .
Overall, though an outstanding game from Christine Sinclair and believe it
or not, this is the first time I've seen her play that I've been able to say
that without reservation or hesitation - I have a feeling it won't be the
last though. Well deserved tournament offensive MVP.
As for the rest of the game, well, a wet and slippery
field spelled trouble for Santa Clara going in. The crux of this team
is in the midfield, namely Aly Wagner, and playing the ball on the ground
through the midfield is a problem on a wet field. As it was reported
during the match, Clive Charles instructed his team to play more direct
which eliminates that problem. With Sinclair up top, that's a viable
option because as we've seen with Team Canada, Sinclair is very strong in
that style of game. The adjustment for Santa Clara wasn't so easy
though - they had to stick to what got them there and that was their
midfield. Between the weather and a great job denying Wagner the ball
in the second half the Broncos' road got that much tougher. A strong
effort, though, especially in the first overtime period.
This was a thoroughly entertaining match, worthy of the
national stage and a fitting way for the seniors on both sides to finish
their college careers. While I was rooting for the Broncos going in,
it is awfully hard not to be happy for Clive Charles and his crew - they
really did deserve this one.
Portland's Christine Sinclair finished the tournament as
the leading goal scorer with an astonishing 10 goals. There was a 5
way tie for the tournament assist lead as Portland's Emily Patterson, Santa
Clara's Aly Wagner, UNC's Susan Bush, Stanford's Marcie Ward and Santa
Clara's Megan Kakadelas finished the tournament with 4 assists each.
For details please follow the tournament scoreboard and
scoring leaders links below.
NCAA Tournament Scoreboard
NCAA Tournament Scoring Leaders